Monday, August 31, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 11 : SAC and the ministries

 


21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 11 : SAC and the ministries

A. Devotion - Isaiah 6:8

God does not force His will upon His children. Isaiah's response to God from a place of guilt, shame and condemnation, reflects a heart broken and contrite for sin, fully yielded to its Creator. Once again it once again debunks every myth long held by humanity that only those considered perfect by worldly standards stand approved by God too. Our God who is no respecter of persons, sees in Isaiah far more worth than he sees in himself.

Oftentimes we spend so much of life pursing our self-worth in accolades and the validation of man, whereas the pursuit of God and His righteousness only carry eternal significance. Only an encounter with the Most High and the revealing knowledge of His all-encompassing love restores you and me to what God originally intended for us to be.

We serve an infinite God, whose ways are not our ways and whose eyes roam the earth searching for those faithful to His cause. May our response to Him always be like that of the Prophet Isaiah - simple, precise and unwavering - 'Here I am, send me!'

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. During this season of prayer and fasting, ask God to move over your heart with His love and healing regarding past experiences, people and circumstances.
  2. Have you experienced a transformation in old ways of thinking/attitudes as a result of the Father's love?

Sunday, August 30, 2020

30 Aug 2020 - Sunday Sermon

Hi Church, here is the sermon for today.



21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 10 : SAC and the ministries

 

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 10 : SAC and the ministries

A. Devotion - Chronicles 29:11

"My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him and that you should minister to Him and burn incense."

And this story is about a young king, only 25 years of age, King Hezekiah and the task laid before him and the choice laid in front of him (God never violates the free will He has given to us).

It was a dark period is history. King Hezekiah's father, King Ahaz, decided to take Israel out from God. He worshipped other gods. Israel was gripped by wickedness, King Ahaz made an unholy alliance with the Assyrians who in turn betrayed Israel but when young 25 year old Hezekiah took over, a young lad of 25, he made a choice not to follow his father's footsteps. Instead, King Hezekiah made his choice to bring the nation back to the one true God. And He set to put the House of God in order, to declutter Israel out of darkness, called the people to worship God Almighty and put the Levites into their rightful place as priests of the Land!

Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared all the people; we see the sudden hand of God as revival took over and the people prospered! Humility, praying and worship; moved the hands of God.

2020 presents a new norm. Confusion and fear reigns and carefully laid plans disarrayed. It also presents a time of reflection, of uncluttering our minds and come back to the peace and orderliness of God. A revival in your heart makes the Holy Spirit work. Hezekiah restored the House of God and along with him the people came with a willing heart and offered burnt offering.

As we turn the pages of stories told in the bible, this may become our experience. When God's people honor Him, He reveals His power. As the psalmist sings, "Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. Will you declutter the House of God (our hearts) to give room for the Holy Spirit? Get back to the Shekinah glory of God. (Eph 4:31)
  2. If the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, minster unto Him and burn the incense of worship, have you adorned yourself with God's holiness? Make sure you do it and do it well.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 9 : SAC and the Leadership

 

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 9 : SAC and the Leadership

A. Devotion - Exodus 18:21

Dwight Lyman Moody, an American evangelist, once said "it is better to set a hundred men to work than to do the work of a hundred men".

No one leader can alone lead and manage a church. Effective delegation through appointments of able and Godly individuals is itself the exercise of leadership, not the abandoning of it. This is the advice that Jethro, Moses's father-in-law, offered to him whilst he was leading the Israelites in Exodus. It is inasmuch the responsibility of the leader who makes the appointment and the individuals appointed by that leader to honour and accept the delegation by faith in Christ.

St Andrew's Church exemplifies leadership following Jethro's advice - there are elders, adult, youth and even children led leaders who are actively present in weekly sermons, foundational class, cell group meetings and even in their daily interaction within the congregation. Members are able to observe apparent delegations of leaders who are selected to lead in different ministries under the supervision of Reverend Johnny Chin. Albeit diverse in their individualities, they exude capability, possess God-fearing character and a heart to lead and serve God.

By faith, the selection criteria was the next step in effective delegation for Moses. Delegation fails if the job is not put into the hands of able, Godly men or women. Only particular men or women are were fit for a certain area of ministry. With Godly wisdom, delegated leadership ensures effective sharing of the Word of God and further reinforces leadership amongst the members. Paul gave the same counsel to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others".

We are ever thankful to our Lord and Saviour that He entrusts good and effective leaders to lead St. Andrew's Church.

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. From God's perspective, what do you think makes an effective leader in church?
  2. In what area of ministry do you think you could exercise delegated authority within the church?

Friday, August 28, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray : Day 8 - The Diocese, Bishop and Clergies

 

21 Days Fast & Pray : Day 8 - The Diocese, Bishop and Clergies

A. Devotion - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

The child of God needs the church family if he is to grow, develop his gifts and to serve God. The church is a family, each member born by the spirit of God and possesses God's nature (1 Peter 1:22-25). God has ordained leadership for the church - just as the flock needs a shepherd so the family needs a leader (1 Peter 5:1-5). Christ as Head of church has given gifts to people and given these people to church to exercise His will (Eph 4:7-16)

What responsibilities have the believers towards their spiritual leaders?

Accept them. As they follow the Lord, we must follow them and we should accept them in the Lord.

Appreciate them. Know then who labour among you (1 Thess 5:12). Spiritual leadership is a given responsibility and a difficult task for which church family should not take leaders for granted but pray for them, work with them and encourage them. The burdens are many but the encouragements are few.

Love them. For a pastor to be among and over is in the Lord demands grace and power of the Spirit.

Obey them. Obey them that have authority over you and submit yourself (Heb 13:17). In spite of their limitations, God's spiritual leaders should be respected and obeyed as they plan, pray and seek to follow God's will. We may be sure God will rule and overrule in the decisions they make. Be at peace among yourselves (1 Thess 5:13). The result of church family following the spiritual leaders, will be peace and harmony in the church. It is only as we submit to one another in the Lord that we can enjoy His blessings and peace ( James 4:1-3, 7-8).

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. What are the essentials for a happy, thriving church family?
  2. How can we makeover local churches more spiritual to the glory of God?

Thursday, August 27, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 7 : The Great Commission

 

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 7 : The Great Commission

A. Devotion - John 4:35-38

There is no better example in Scripture than Jesus when we think of reaching souls who have yet to know our Father. When we read the Gospels, there is no denying that our Saviour was single minded in His mission on earth.

In today's reading taken from John 4, we see Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman. She was surprised that a Jew would talk to her. However, Jesus knew that He needed to talk to her in order "to do the will of Him who sent me".

I am sure we have asked ourselves the common question, "What is God's will for my life?" We struggle to comprehend what God wants us to do and where He wants us to go. After Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, the disciples found Jesus and they urged Him to eat. Jesus answered them simply: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." Jesus went on to say that the fields "are ripe for harvest" (v. 35). he then made a distinction between a sower and a reaper all through the gospels, we see Jesus sowing the seeds of Truth, yet it was the disciples who did the reaping. 

Maybe today, you are asking God what His will is for your life Jesus answers this clearly, that is, to do the work set out before us. Sow. Keep sowing. Keep watering. You do not know when that seed will grow into a beautiful tree that will reap a harvest.

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. What did the woman at the well do when she heard that Jesus is the Messiah?
  2. Whose life can you sow into today?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 6 : Building Strong Family Values


21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 6 : Building Strong Family Values

A. Devotion - Colossians 2:8

Today's family is under fire. Christian values have taken a back seat because the fear of God is fast disappearing. Paul writes that we need to be aware of deceptive philosophy, human traditions and elemental spiritual forces of the world. There are many systems, beliefs, and ways of thinking in our world that are hollow and deceptive. These false beliefs are focused on everything except Christ. Slowly, deceptive values are taking hold of families, including Christian families. They may sound good, they may be followed widely, but they are mental detours that lead many people astray.

We are to be "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." We must focus again and again upon who He is, in order that our minds and hearts are both protected against the assault of evil teaching. Parents and guardians should take the lead to guide children to Christ.

Reading the word of God daily and praying diligently can build the family in Christian values. Families that are deep rooted in God will have stronger integrity, character and moral purity. Families that are built on Christ-like values and principles will provide the next generation with security and power in Christ. God can accomplish and fulfill His purposes in and through such families.

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. What are some of the traditions and rituals we have adopted in our generation that are not in line with the word of God?
  2. Do you sit together as a family and discuss how the worldly value systems are so different from Christian values, and which you should follow?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 5 : Family - Altar, reconciliation and transformation


21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 5 : Family - Altar, reconciliation and transformation

A. Devotion - Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Have you ever heard of this phrase, "Charity begins at home"? It is often misinterpreted as taking care of the needs of your family before taking care of others. However, what it really means is that children learn how to be giving and generous if they have parents at home who model generosity and the spirit of giving. Similarly, we can say, "Worship begins at home." What do you think this means?

In Deuteronomy 6, we are reminded as parents, to establish our family in the Christian faith, build up our personal conviction and teach sound doctrine to our children. We build a family altar by reading God's word, praying and worshipping God together as a family. Children do not automatically grow up and become "good Christians". They need to see their parents "walk the walk and talk the talk." How we live our lives becomes the model and standard by which our children, and other non-believing members of our family, define a godly life. Loving God and His Word, learning to pray for others, seeking the good of others are all things that should start from home. In this way, you will see the love of God expressed outside your home and in your community, thus obeying the commandment Jesus gave in Matthew 22 to love our neighbours.

As you pray and intercede for your family and friends, think about the family altar you are building. Even if you are single, or are yet to have children, the special times set apart for prayer, worship and the study of God's word is so important! You can build your own altar to God and trust that as you continue to obey Him, He will bring many to build their family altar and add to yours, for His glory.

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. What are some practical ways to make family altar time an exciting time that everyone looks forward to?
  2. What are some activities that families can do together to show God's love in others, so that we can model His love to our children and non-believing family members?

Monday, August 24, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 4 : Family - Salvation, Protection & Provision

 



21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 4 : Family - Salvation, Protection & Provision

A. Devotion Acts 16:25-33

Salvation is individual and a family is made up of individuals who live together. God instituted a family and it brings Him great joy when we worship Him, honour Him and bring glory to His name as a family. Salvation is important because, when God's Spirit dwells in us, we can walk in the mind of Christ every day.

Let's see how it worked for Paul and Silas in Acts Chapter 16.

Paul and Silas was in jail, yet they were singing praises through songs and hymns. Then there was a violent earthquake that shook the foundation of the prison (Acts 16:25). In the midst of difficult circumstances, Paul and Silas were singing praises and giving thanks to God. How was this possible? It was because of this powerful spirit in them. This made an impact on the jailor, who witnessed how the Lord saved them from the chains of prison. The jailer sought to be connected to this same joy and peace that Paul and Silas had. This convicted him to ask what he should do to be saved. It's a great challenge to bring a person to this point of conviction, to ask what he should do to be saved. How powerful salvation is! The message was not preached but it was practiced for a non-believer to see. Our salvation experience should impact other people in the household.

Verse 34 states that it brought great joy because the jailor and his household came to believe in God. There is fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord (Psalm 16:11). The presence of the Lord brings freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17)

B. Application / Self-reflection
  1. Does your life reflect this joy of salvation for your household to see?
  2. What do you think you can do in order to lead someone to this experience?

Sunday, August 23, 2020

23 Aug 2020 - 2nd Eng Sermon

Good Afternoon Church, here is the recording of the 2nd service sermon.


21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 3 : Personal Commitment

 

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 3 : Personal Commitment

A. Devotion - 1 Kings:8-16

Until today, King Solomon the son and successor of King David, is known for his wisdom. Yet, in this chapter of 1 Kings, we see a king that is more than just wise. Solomon here has just completed the building of the temple of God and immediately, he dedicates it to the Lord. In his prayer, Solomon begins with adoration unto the Lord, thanking Him for all He has done and towards the end, also prays that he and the people of Israel would be committed to the Lord. In that, we see the heart of Solomon. Much like his father, he was one completely devoted to the Lord.

The king could have taken pride in the completion of the temple. He could have led a celebration to draw attention to his achievement. But it would not do for Solomon to attribute such success to anything or anyone but God. Not only that, but it also would not do for him to have the Israelites set their hearts elsewhere.

2 Chronicles 1 opens telling is of King Solomon's greatness. In the same chapter, God appears to the king in a dream, telling him to ask for whatever he desires and it would be granted to him. Instead of asking for riches or power, or even for Israel's enemies to be given into his hands, King Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge to govern over the Lord's people. Again, we see a man who recognize that every part of his life would be nothing if it were not from God and unto God. He understood the words of his father, King David, in his prayer that Solomon would "acknowledge the God of [his] father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion" (1 Chronicles 28:9).

May we today yearn for a heart like Solomon's, one wholly devoted to the Lord, Our God.

B. Application / Self-reflection

How are your prayers different from those of King Solomon's in this chapter?


Saturday, August 22, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 2 : Personal Surrender

 

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 2 : Personal Surrender

A. Devotion - Titus 3:3-7

Paul's letter to Titus emphasizes that we all need a Saviour; for we ourselves were once foolish and disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another (Titus 3:3), and a Saviour is exactly what God provided. But God's acceptance of us is based not on our works but on faith in Christ's work.

When we first become a Christian, we consider the question, "will you invite Jesus into your life?' But years later we come to a realisation that actually, we were the ones saved and He has invited us into His house.

Often during our walk with God, we think that Jesus did His part on the cross, now we are supposed to do our part. He died for us, now we should live for Him.

Our call can be so much greater than that. Jesus did not only die for us, but He also rose again. His resurrection life and power are now in and available to all who trust in Him. Jesus wants to live His life in us and through us. The apostle Paul said that "Christ in you" is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Our hope of living the life of Christ and becoming the people He calls us to be is the power of Jesus Christ living in us, so that we my become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7b).

May we take the message in Paul's letter to heart this fasting season, that we would lay down our lives, accept His invitation and allow the Holy Spirit to regenerate and renew us so that we can be ready for every good work He's going to call us to, in the next season. 

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. What does it mean to be an "heir according to the hope of eternal life"? What are some of the practical steps we can take as heirs? Ask God about what He is calling you to in this next season.
  2. What are some ways you can be regenerated and renewed to be ready for the next season?

Friday, August 21, 2020

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 1 : Personal Confession and Affirmations in Christ

21 Days Fast & Pray - Day 1 : Personal Confession and Affirmations in Christ

A. Devotion - Psalm 51:10

David's mind was a devastating maelstrom of remorse and self-disgust. The prophet Nathan had looked at him square in the face and pronounced the evil that David had committed - he had slept with another man's wife, and then sent her husband to his death (2 Samuel 11).

How could he, an adulterous murderer, continue being king? how could he ever stand before the Lord and show his face again? And yet, all was not lost. Nathan said to David, "The Lord has put away your sin" (2 Samuel 12:13).

However, now we are faced with a new dilemma. How could God ever pass over David's awful sins? The answer is clear to us - his terrible sins would be covered by the blood of the coming Christ, who wouldn't be born for over 40 more generations.

Although the amazing truth of the Gospel may not have been immediately apparent to David at the time, what was clear to him was the unbelievable depths of God's forgiveness. Even if David could not foresee the coming Christ, he saw clearly again how amazing God is and that revelation washed over him in a deluge of emotional repentance. Faced with the unending love of God, all David could do was lay his heart bare before his Creator. And out of that came Psalm 51.

As we think about how God's forgiveness broke David's heart and revived him through new grace, the heartfelt confessions of Psalm 51 challenge us to consider our own transgressions. Let us pray these apt words of David for ourselves and praise God for His mercies. Let us remind our souls once again of the beauty of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, and how our Saviour will heal the broken-hearted and lift our spirits as we seek Him each day.

B. Application / Self-reflection

  1. Take a moment to reflect on this past week or month. Are there things you need to bring before God and seek His mercy?
  2. In the same spirit of humility and repentance,  reflect on the loving-kindness of God in your life and how He has "put away your sin". Let your gratitude lead your prayer.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

20 Aug 2020 - Isaiah 30

 20 Aug 2020 - Isaiah 30

TRUST HIS DIRECTIONS

Isaiah begins his woe by criticizing the people (Israelites) for making plans that are not in line with God’s plans. He calls them tenacious, disobedient children for doing this. Rather than relying on God who has promised to deliver them, they are turning to Egypt for an alliance to save them from Assyria. Vs 2: “Who set out to go down to Egypt without asking for my direction.” They refuse to trust God’s plans and stop looking for the direction of God. God assured them that He would deliver them but out of unbelief they are making their own plans. The people fail to understand that relying on people brings dishonor and no help at all.

Vs 9-10 These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us

Not only are they unwilling to listen to God’s instruction but demand to hear only the things they want to hear. But the core talk of this chapter is found in Vs 15. In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.  God reminds us that,

  • trusting God's promise means returning. If there is conspicuous disobedience in our lives, we must return to the LORD's ways.
  • trusting God's promise means resting in God's promises. Be still to know He is God, quieten your heart and surrender saying “let your will be done”
  • trusting God's promise means confidence. You aren't given to despair or fear, because you trust God's promise. You know He can and will come through, and you have a deep confidence in the God who loves you.

There is no person walking this earth more powerful than a child of God boldly and properly trusting the promise of the living God! In spite of the distrust He is a GRACIOUS GOD Vs 18.

Vs 30:22 God’s mercy and grace cleanses and reconditions our idolatrous hearts. When the idols are cast out, then God will pour out His blessings even more (30:23-26). How glorious to be led of the Spirit and having God say, "This is the way, walk in it." The way of waiting upon God and completing a trust walk with Him.

Even as we prepare ourselves to start the 21 days of fast and pray, let us examine our heart’s condition. Are we willing to trust God and His directions as we pray for a break through and take a closer walk with the Lord? If we humble ourselves and confess that we have not believed in Him, that we have not wanted to submit to His authority, and that we have doubted His love for us, then He will forgive us and give us the grace to submit to Him, to resist the devil, and draw near to Him.

Isaiah 30:18

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;

    Therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion.

For the Lord is a God of justice.

    Blessed are all who wait for him!

 

Suggested Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, how can I ever thank you for the love and mercy shown to me even when I failed to trust you. Please forgive me for those times that I have not intentionally surrendered to your directions. I resign from running the affairs of my life and let You reign in all aspects. I commit everything concerning me – my family, ministry, relationships, finances, plans, desires, and dreams. I want Your best for my life. I desire Your perfect will in all areas of my life, I ask for the joy of the Lord to be my strength. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.”

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

18 Aug 2020 - 1 Kings 8:1-21

1 Kings 8:1-21


17th March 2020 was a momentous day for Bruneians.  The long-awaited Temburong bridge meant that finally people in the remotest district could access Bandar and vice versa.  Families could visit each other without the complications of arranging boat rides or border crossings; people could access services and shops in Bandar; and of course Temburong’s tourism has benefited significantly.  The plans were in the making for years and we have been blessed to see them fulfilled.  


On a grander and more significant scale was the day described in 1 Kings 8:1-21 - the ark being placed in the temple.  What a day for Israel!  It must have felt like an impossible dream finally becoming a reality!  A day of elation and celebration.  In verse 11 we read that the glory of God so filled the temple that the priests could not perform their service.  Imagine experiencing that presence!  But this day had been in the making long before Solomon was king.  This was the result of his father, David’s, vision and Solomon was the one to see it fulfilled.


God places dreams in our hearts.  They are there not only for our own fulfilment, but to bless others, and they are precious!  We are His co-workers, that means we take the time to converse with Him – listen and talk - to find out His plans, His heart.  Don’t wait for someone else – ask God His plans for you and ask Him to show you the first steps.  Keep pushing into Him and don’t give up!   Hebrews 11:6 says He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Your dream going to impact those around you.  You will never know until you take courage and step out in faith.  What celebrations will result from your persistence and obedience?  Have a blessed day!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbSPw7f3FxI


Saturday, August 15, 2020

15 Aug 2020 - Perfect Peace

Devotion for 15 August, Sat
Perfect Peace

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, That the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, For in YAH, the Lord , is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 26:1‭-‬4)

We have heard of the term 'perfect storm'. Here Isaiah speaks of the opposite, 'perfect peace.' The Hebrew word for "peace" (shalom) means more than a cessation of war. It includes blessings such as wholeness, health, quietness of soul, preservation, and completeness. "What is your peace?" is the way Jews often greet one another, and Isaiah's reply would be, "My peace is from the Lord for I trust wholly in him!" (Warren W. Wiersbe)

Indeed the first step to perfect peace is trusting God. It comes from an intimate relationship with God, that we know Him. Isaiah speaks not just knowing that God is strong but that He is everlasting strength. Can you imagine what it is like? Strength, so powerful that we get a glimpse in the creation of the universe out of nothing. And strength that never runs out, not in a billion years, not forever. I found this article on how long a strong man can last:

"From October 12-15, 2005, Karnazes ran 350 miles across Northern California without stopping. He didn't stop to sleep or to eat, or – in the most stupefying accomplishment of all – he did not even slow down to sample a Sonoma Valley chilled chardonnay. All told, he ran for 80 hours, 44 minutes without a break."

This man was strong. Imagine God's everlasting strength. We witnessed Paul and Silas' perfect peace while in prison (Acts 16). It comes from trusting God who is everlasting strength.

Paul and Silas had a second reason for the perfect peace, in the words of Isaiah, "That the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in." Perfect peace comes with righteousness through the finished work of Christ on the cross, where we know all my sins have been forgiven and I am His son / daughter and He is my Father.

The perfect picture of perfect peace is Jesus himself, sleeping on the boat caught in the storm ... on the cross, He prayed loudly (victoriously) "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

Reflection: Do you have peace? What does it depend on? How does your peace get stolen? More importantly, do I know God?

Prayer: Perfect peace, you give, Lord. This precious gift comes with the Giver. May I discover this perfect peace is in me because you have invited me to you. I worship you. I trust you and I stand before you in your righteousness. In the Name of the One who gives perfect peace. Amen

Thursday, August 13, 2020

13 Aug 2020 - Psalm 68

Devotion 13 August 2020 - Psalm 68

This Psalm is from King David as he celebrates God’s continued care and protection over Israel and he praises God for giving them victory over their enemies. David recalled how God led them through the wilderness into their inheritance. The Israelites were burdened and struggled but God brought them out to freedom. David recognized that God was always in control and God kept his promises to His people.

Sometimes it can be quite difficult to understand that the Almighty God, creator of heavens and earth would care and love us so much. Why would such a powerful God want to hear from us? Be in constant communion with us? Desire a relationship with us? Why would such a powerful God- who can control the wind and the storms allow us to call him Abba, Father? Yes, that is what the Bible is telling us and that is precisely what Psalm 68 is telling us. He is a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows. He daily bears our burdens (v.19) and he is a God who saves (v.20). He is a God who gives power and strength to His people (v.35). He even knows the numbers of hair on your head!

That is who our God is! He is never too far from us and never too busy for us. There is so much that God has done for us but sometimes we do not appreciate or recognize it. Perhaps we are questioning God by asking is he really in control of our situation? This is what the Israelites felt when they were slaves, when they were at the Red Sea and when they were in the desert for 40 years but God brought them through and sustained them. God cares for us and the ultimate proof of that is the cross. Christ has carried our sin and buried it into the grave, he will carry you through your days. As we go about our daily lives, we must not let the world overwhelm us for we already have victory in Jesus. He has overcome this world and he has already defeated the enemy. God’s love for you never ceases and his compassions never fail.

Personal reflection:

a) Have we taken a moment to realise how fortunate we are to be loved by our Creator?
b) When was the last time we praised him sincerely for how good and faithful he is? (see Psalm 91:1-2).

Prayer:

Thank you God for loving us in a personal way. We are thankful for a God that is never too busy for us, cares for us and that tell us to casts all our anxiety on him. We thank you for your mercies are new every morning. Please forgive us that some times we doubt that you are near and that you are in control. Forgive us for being impatient and wanting quick solutions. Teach us to be patient and continue to mould me and transform me into your image. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

11 Aug 2020 - Isaiah 22

Daily Devotion 11 August

Isaiah 22

ARROGANCE AND UNREPENTANCE WILL LEAD TO DESTRUCTION

Isaiah delivers a prophecy of destruction to the people of Jerusalem in this chapter. God was angry with the disobedience and sin of the people of Jerusalem. He warned them, through Isaiah, that their enemies would invade and destroy them (v5-7). The people of Jerusalem tried to prepare themselves for this by collecting weapons, storing water and strengthening their walls (v9-10), but they did not to look to God for help (v11). They failed to understand that this destruction was planned by God, as a result of their unrepentance. In giving the people this warning, God gave them the opportunity to repent and to show remorse for what they had done (v12). Unfortunately, they decided to carry on doing what they liked, as though there would be no time of accountability. Their reply to Isaiah was,” Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (v13). They were shameless in their unrepentance and they were going to die in this woeful state. They did not seem to care about God, and they showed contempt to Him and to His prophet Isaiah. God saw the unrepentant state of their hearts and revealed to Isaiah,” Till your dying day, this sin will not be atoned for” (v14). Reading this passage makes me think that the people of Jerusalem had unbelievable cheek! However, once I have thought about this further, I realise how often I have seen this kind of contemptuous behaviour towards God and the people He uses to rebuke others. Do you pay attention when God rebukes you? Or do you disregard His rebuke and reject good advice in order to carry on doing what you want?

God wanted to teach the people humility and to bring them to repentance. He wanted them to realise who had enabled them to build their city and who had blessed them with what they had. Sadly, the people showed great contempt towards God. They did not believe that God would bring justice, or perhaps they were too proud to believe that they were subject to His judgement. Shebna, the palace administrator, gets a special mention here (v15-16) as a man so full of pride and vanity, that he has made himself an elaborate grave high above the city. He had built himself a special resting place after death, to reflect his “high position”, without having any regard to his soul. The Lord warned him that He was about to destroy him and his expensive possessions (“the chariots you were so proud of”) would become a disgrace to his master’s house. Shebna had clearly decided that his worth was in his high position in society and in his outwardly show of wealth. He was full of self-importance. He had failed to look to God and to seek God’s guidance in his leadership duties, but instead took vain pride in his own supposed “greatness’. All these earthly things that he so valued would become meaningless in his death.

God then revealed that he would raise up His servant Eliakin son of Hilkiah and hand Shebna’s authority over to him. God told Isaiah that “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open” (22). This “key” is a prophetic key that is also mentioned in Revelation 3:7. The holder of the “key of David” is in fact, Jesus. This is a prophecy of salvation from our sins and the great redemptive hope that would come in our Lord Jesus Christ. “He (Jesus) would become driven into a firm place, and become a seat of honour in His father’s house. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots – all its lesser vessels…” (v23-24). Therefore, those who cling onto Jesus will become part of God’s family and be saved. Whereas those who hang onto the false peg, which is vanity, pride and unrepentance will fall and be cut down (25).

What is the relevance of this scripture in our lives?

It reminds us that we should have an attitude of gratitude and repentance towards God, instead of contempt and pride. We need to acknowledge that God provides us with everything we have. We should pay attention to him and be obedient to His word and guidance. We may have God’s favour and blessing upon our life, but He can choose to remove these things as He sees fit. We should not fall into the trap of thinking that we are so smart, so powerful, or so “great” that we can outwit God and His will. We should constantly be mindful that the punishment of sin and unrepentance is death and destruction. However, the good news is that we have the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ in our life, if we choose to humble ourselves, repent for our sins and submit to God. We can trade death and destruction for salvation and becoming part of God’s family. What a great exchange! Will you submit to God and accept it?

Suggested prayer:

Father God, forgive us for the times we have failed to look to you for help and guidance. Forgive us for our pride and vanity. Forgive us for the times we have behaved with contempt, arrogance and unrepentance. Help us to fear You and to hang our hope and trust on Jesus Christ. Thank you, God for our salvation and redemption through Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

08 Aug 2020 - God commands Isaiah to take off his clothes and sandals!

God commands Isaiah to take off his clothes and sandals!

Isaiah was already wearing sackcloth. Sackcloth as the name suggests, was the cloth used in making sacks. When ancient Israelis mourned, it was traditional for them to put on sackcloth and cover themselves in ashes as a sign of mourning and sometimes repentance. Some commentators like Matthew Henry seemed to believe that sackcloth was almost a uniform for Old Testament prophets. It may have symbolised the hard life of the calling to the office of Old Testament Prophet.

In verse 2 God commands Isaiah to take off his clothes and sandals and go about barefoot and naked. “Really God?” Isaiah might have thought, although Scripture is silent on this point. Was Isaiah really naked for 3 years? Why would God command such a thing? What on earth is going on?

Isaiah may not have been completely without clothes, but likely wore undergarments. Even with undergarments, this was likely to be a powerful visual statement backing up the prophetic words Isaiah was bringing to the people of God. These prophetic words declared how Egypt and Cush (Ethiopia) would be conquered by the Assyrian army. Israel was not to rely on them, but rather trust in God alone.

Often people cover themselves up with clothing when we want to be religious. In this passage, God commands Isaiah in an unusual situation to take off most of his clothes.

Nakedness symbolises vulnerability, as well as spiritual and material poverty. Nakedness or near nakedness was associated with a sense of humiliation, shame and poverty. Being seen only wearing under-garments, made Isaiah like the poorest of people in society.

Being bare-footed is a strong statement of being a slave in Isaiah’s time. Isaiah was prophesying by word and deed about God’s coming judgement against the Egyptians and Cushites (Ethiopians). The Assyrian army was going to turn them into distressed and captive nations under their iron rule.

What is God trying to teach us in the 21st century?

God’s word was not getting through to the people of God so He ordered Isaiah to supplement the spoken prophesy with this powerful visual prophetic demonstration. He did this to try and get the people of God to listen to what He was telling them.

Nakedness is not a good state. In Revelation 3:17 Jesus is critical of the Laodicean church for not realising they are spiritually naked. They were naked because they were lukewarm towards Jesus in their love and deeds. They did not clothe themselves with Christ’s righteousness. Later in the book of Isaiah, God commands us to be clothed in white, (symbolising God’s righteousness in our lives). When we do not seek God’s approval and our hearts lead us astray, we can lose the covering of righteousness over our lives. In this state, we have sin, that has not been put under the blood of Christ and not cleansed from our lives. It is like we are poor and naked in Isaiah’s analogy.

When we put our hopes in mere human beings, in worldly possessions and not in God, we are led astray by such things. This displeases God. We should not be surprised when we are profoundly disappointed, Isaiah in verse 5 uses the word “dismayed”. We are called by Isaiah and others to repent. God is serious about having our attention and allowing His Lordship over our lives.

Suggested prayer: Father God, may You become and remain the first love of our lives. Forgive us when we have put our trust in the wrong people and things. Help us repent and turn to you again. We want to discern Your heart and will and be obedient to Your Word in our generation. In Jesus Name. Amen.